Striving for a predator free Hawke’s Bay

Driving towards a predator free Hawke’s Bay is a huge positive step in allowing native species to thrive where we live, work and play.

In a bid to achieve this goal Cape to City and Poutiri Ao ō Tāne will bring together some of the best brains in the predator free business at the programme’s first ever conference Transforming Biodiversity: Challenging the Boundaries.

The conference will kick off on Tuesday and will see more than 300 attend talks from a range of speakers from key sector bodies such as the Department of Conservation, Biological Heritage National Science Challenge, Landcare Research, the Cawthron Institute and Predator Free 2050.

Cape to City and Poutiri Ao ō Tāne project chair Campbell Leckie says predators are a major threat to New Zealand's native species and cause our nation significant economic loss.

He says controlling them is essential for the survival of our native plants and animals which are a precious Taonga.

“New Zealand has been geographically separated from other land masses for over 80 million years, so our native wildlife has evolved in isolation and in the absence of land mammals,” says Campbell.

“The introduction of predator pests has taken a serious toll on the survival of our native plants, birds, reptiles and invertebrates, who are ill equipped to deal with the threat.

“Pests such as possums, rats and stoats compete with our native birdlife for food and destroy habitat. They also eat the eggs and young and attack the adults.”

It is because of the introduction of predators such as these that New Zealand has seen one of the world’s highest rates of bird extinctions and 1000 native species currently listed as threatened.

This ecological upheaval of the past means that predator control must be more than business as usual, it must be not only collaborative but transformative.

“Most of New Zealand’s bird species are found nowhere else but here so there is a real urgency to act to make sure we don’t lose them forever,” he says.

“The challenge we have is our simple reality as a nation that business as usual pest control will not turn the tide in this fight to save and restore our biodiversity.”

This is where Cape to City and Poutiri Ao ō Tāne come in. Ground-breaking projects in Hawke’s Bay working to restore native species across 34,000 hectares of mainly primary productive farmland show the pathway to how it is possible to successfully upscale predator control for the region.

Campbell says the conference is an opportunity to find out details about what has been learnt over the last four years in large scale ecological restoration and landscape scale predator pest management.

Predator control, community, education, research and species translocations are all key to the visions success, says Campbell.

“The conference will look at the big picture of biodiversity restoration in New Zealand and also consider some practical pathways to achieving this goal,” he says.

“Our vision through Cape to City and Poutiri Ao ō Tāne is to bring native species back to Hawke’s Bay to thrive as part of the landscape – and our lives. Driving towards a Predator Free Hawke’s Bay would be a huge positive step to achieving that”

For more information on the conference or to see who will be presenting please visit www.capetocity.co.nz.


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